Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy

Creep | Creepies

By Steve Anderson
April 1st, 2006

Creep
DVD
****
Directed by Christopher Smith
Written by Christopher Smith
Starring Franka Potente, Vas Blackwood, Jeremy Sheffield, Sean Harris
Produced by Julie Baines, Jason Newmark
R
85 mins
Even though the Silent Hill movie won't be hitting theatres for some time now, fans of creepy, surrealist and occasionally gruesome horror can snag the next best thing in the UK's offering, "Creep."

First off, you've got to love that title. It's truth in advertising. Personified. Yes, yes, it's called "Creep" largely because of the villain's name, but truth be told this is some fantastically creepy stuff.

I mean REALLY creepy. And if you don't believe me, just check out the menu. Those different security camera angles, each revealing a new and progressively scarier detail, are an excellent stroke.

But even these hair-raising menu options (no, it's not hyperbole. Hit the special features button and see for yourself!) are no match for the first eight minutes. The first eight minutes are going to be home to a lot of edgy moments, and it has the effect of putting you on edge.

Now, the plot doesn't sound like it should be very creepy. Basically, a model agency booker named Kate is going to try and get across town to meet George Clooney. I think we can all be pretty confident that she's in London. Anyway, she can't get a cab to meet George, so she turns to the subway to get her across town, and after downing one of those little bottles of what I'm guessing is vodka (though from the way the girl was drinking at the party she'd just left it could be paint thinner for all I know) she "dozes off" (read: passes out for those not inclined to be charitable) And by the time she wakes up, the station is empty, and everyone around her is gone.

Okay, Silent Hill moment, right? Right.

And then the next train comes in. And then...all hell breaks loose.

Seriously. We've gone from creepy to bloodstained in the space of around, oh, five minutes or so. And that's the thing that got me about "Creep." This isn't one of those movies that takes a while to get fired up. This isn't one of those movies that pulls a Monev the Gale with a wild opening ten minutes and then can't keep up with the rest of the film. This starts big, runs big through the middle, and then finally ends on a pretty big note. It does not lag. There are no slack moments. Sure, there's some quiet time for plot development--everybody worth talking about's got that--but even that quiet time is well used to develop tension.

And even better, some of the scariest parts of "Creep" take place in a brightly lit environment. Now how's that for originality? Everybody since the dawn of horror's been counting on the moving darkness to yield scares--"Creep" stages most of its shock value in a white tiled subway station with overhanging flourescent light. Now THAT is bright!

Perhaps the biggest reason for applause for "Creep," the gore factor--which you'd rightly expect to be ramped through the roof--is actually toned down. Splatter is a minimum here, and used rather sparingly, especially when compared to some bucket-based filmmaking we can all name.

Ladies, a special note--always wear pumps. The biggest heel you can get. Aside from the fact that most of us guys truly enjoy the sight, as Kate demonstrates at the fifty seven minute six second mark, if you're ever trapped in a sewer system by a homicidal flesh eating ghoul, those six inch stilettos to an eye just might save your life.

Think about it.

The ending features a plot element seemingly tacked on at the last second to give our main baddie a little note of humanity (which I actually found rather forced and a bit confusing, it's kind of like "Dr. Giggles", but only a bit), some fantastic cat-and-mouse work, and even a surprise comic twist at the end.

Yeah, that's the twist! The ending's funny!

The special features include audio and video options, several making-of featurettes including a Q&A session at Fright Fest 2004, director's commentary, an alternate ending, an alternate BEGINNING, and trailers for "Saw II" and "Bloodline."

All in all, "Creep" is an excellent example of some creepy, surrealist horror with just enough gore to keep the plot spicy. A freaky opening, a solidly done middle and an ending with a laugh is just the combination "Creep" needs to be put at the top of a rental list.

 

 

Creepies
*
DVD
Directed by Jeff Leroy
Written by Eric Spudic
Starring Lisa Jay, Eric Flenner, Phoebe Dollar, Jeff Ryan
Produced by Eric Flenner, David S. Sterling
unrated
2003
87 mins

L.A. is under attack by giant spiders! Everybody run from the Attack of the Antiquated Storylines!

So what we have here is a very familiar story. Giant spiders. Spiders as "big as J. Lo's ass"--which is probably my favorite line in the whole sorry mess. Created by various Secret Government Experiments in various Secret Government Installations. And naturally, they're going to get loose.

And what follows is almost ninety minutes of a truly awful movie.

And the reasons to hate "Creepies" start just as soon as you put the DVD in your player. For some baffling reason, Maverick Entertainment / Creep FX has decided to put trailers ahead of the movie. Which by itself would not be so bad...except that there's absolutely no way to skip them. Fast forward doesn't work. Track advance, ditto. Menu, title, nothing works. You are locked...into...the...trailers.

But then we fire up the movie, and ohhhhh my. What we get are miniatures so poorly constructed that they look like toys with the decals ripped off, CG so blatant and poor quality that you can still see the polygons in some shots, and a storyline so antiquated that most DTV stopped using it back around the late nineties with "Spiders".

The "Spider-vision" shots, first seen at two minutes and forty nine seconds, are laughable at best--why a spider would have only three compoundings in its vision, when it has eight or more eyes, is utterly beyond me.

And then, join me for some fun at the thirteen minute four second mark. Start frame advancing from right there and watch the Amazing Changing Handgun! Sergeant Benson (the character covered in spiders right here) inserts a revolver into his mouth. But then, advance right on up to thirteen minutes SIX seconds. What's THAT?? No, not the dummy head exploding. What's that HANDGUN he's holding?? That's no revolver! Looking at the underside of the grip shows--ta da!--a CLIP.

Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Not fifteen minutes in and already a stunt where the metaphorical wires are plainly visible.

Even better is right around the fourteen minute mark where, in a sequence so incredibly reminiscent of the Power Rangers, the tanks land. And please, for the love of God, tell me that's not an AMERICAN flag at the fifteen minute mark. It's got like EIGHT stars. We couldn't afford the real thing, Creep FX?

And then, the ignorant rocker girl slips out and starts killing a beetle...all the while screaming about how she hates spiders. And that thing you're smashing? It's a BEETLE.

A half hour in contains one of the strangest sequences I've seen from direct to video fare in quite some time. The spiders...give SPEECHES. One spider decides to "rally the troops" and give a speech about lousy cover bands and the horrible music the humans can muster.

And yet, it is this truly awful quality that gives "Creepies" a little extra respect. It's LOUSY. But it's so fantastically over the top that it can't help but elicit a little laughter at the cinematic tomfoolery running before our eyes.

This movie is, in fact, so mind-alteringly lousy that I could actually (and DID!) pick a sequence at random, mute the TV, and sing the "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" main theme and it would fit.

Worse yet, it DID fit! The spider battle at about thirty eight minutes worked surprisingly well.

I can't believe what I'm seeing. The cop at the forty three minute mark is none other than lousy porn star Ron Jeremy! This is the SECOND Creep FX movie he's been in to date!

The ending is actually quite a surprise as an all-girl rock band manages to destroy L.A. I'm laughing despite the mushroom cloud! At least until the sequel gets set up....

The special features include Spanish subtitles and trailers for "The Evil One", "The Wickeds", "Darkhunters", "Side FX", "Centipede", and "Demons at the Door".

All in all, never mind that the plotline is so antique they stopped using it seven years ago. Never mind that you've seen better miniatures at a Warhammer tourney. Never mind that the spider effects are so fantastically cheesy you could melt them for nachos. This is still pretty funny stuff, and you should probably have a rental just to see the new bottom of the barrel.

Want to receive an expanded version of Reel Advice as an E-Newsletter?? Email to thevideostoreguy@columnist.com with "The Advisor" in the subject line. 

Steve Andersen, much to his own chagrin, is a five-plus year veteran of the direct to video market. He has spent an alarming amount of time in video stores and seeks to provide the public with advance information on all the video releases that they may never have heard of...whether they want to hear of them or not. Steve appears in one way or another weekly, biweekly, or monthly on such fine entertainment-related ezines as Film Threat, Dream Forge, Reel Horror, Acid Logic, Chaotic Culture Magazine, Malicious Bitch webzine, and many others. Readers, agents, or editors can email Steve at thevideostoreguy@columnist.com




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